Sunday, January 11, 2009 | By: Zachary Bartels

Pesci Preachers

So I've decided on a term to replace the potentially offensive "BA." My buddy Ted Kluck, himself an accomplished BA (see his blog on my blog roll), suggested the word "Pesci." As in Joe Pesci, Hollywood heavy and sometimes-funnyman. I like it enough to give it a thirty-day trial run. Anyway, the whole reason I got blogged-down looking for that word is because I had an idea for a couple blog entries that could only be called "Bad___ Preachers," but I didn't want to call it that; I'm a man of the cloth, after all. So now I've got the term--Pesci Preachers--and we can move on.

You may be thinking, "Pesci...preachers? That seems like a non sequitor." If so, I urge you to remember that Jesus, St. Paul, Martin Luther, Johnathan Edwards, Anne Hutchinson, and Martin Luther King, Jr. were preachers. Yeah; we've go plenty of Pescis*.

At any rate, I have fictional preachers in mind today.

Remember that scene in Boiler Room when the young wannabe stock brokers took turns reciting lines from Wall Street? Or on Hot Fuzz when Nick Frost revealed his massive collection of police-related movies? I think we've all got our favorite books and films that glamorize, flamorize, and romanticize what we do for a living. My mother, an RN, has a huge collection of antique Cherry Ames books. Cherry Ames is this twenty-something nurse who would have to be like sixty to have held down all the jobs she's supposedly mastered--army nurse, dude ranch nurse, ski lodge nurse, rural nurse, mountaineer nurse. I've never read one, but I guarantee she always saves the day, gets her fella, and never loses that cute little nurse's cap. And, while I bet they claim to hate them, I'm sure most archaeologists have all the Indiana Jones and Lara Croft DVDs locked away at home and watch them religiously. After all, those are some Pesci archaeologists.

So, who's in my Pesci preacher collection? Pickins are slim. When they're not psychos or perverts, preachers are usually portrayed as timid little nancies in fiction, even religious thriller type fiction. Just look at a book full of Pescis* like This Present Darkness. That's about as pro-church, pro-clergy a book as you can get, but still the newspaperman is a Pesci, the angels are Pescis, even the random skeptic lady has her Pesci moments. But the preacher is just kind of weasely and spastic.

So here's my list of favorite fictional Pesci clergy off the top of my head:
  • Sonny in The Apostle
  • Reverend Frank in License to Wed (that little sidekick of his too)
  • Father Laurence in Romeo + Juliet (played by Kobayashi!)
  • Pastor Dan on Raising Helen
  • Brother Thomas on The Prophecy
  • The God Squad in Keeping the Faith
  • Father Gilbert from the Father Gilbert Mysteries (more about him next time).
  • Monsignor Martinez from King of the Hill ("Via...con Dios.")
  • That bald, grizzled priest in End of Days (nonsense about 1999 notwithstanding...hey, makes as much sense as dispensationalism.)
  • Father McGruder (pre-zombie) in DeadAlive
  • Father Gabriel in The Mission
  • Mel Gibson in Signs
  • Friar Tuck on Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
  • Abbe Faria in The Count of Monte Cristo
  • Harvey Keitel's character in Dusk Til Dawn (note: I am not recommending this movie! But I saw it and I can't unsee it and Keitel's character was indeed a Pesci Baptist pastor...who makes holy water.)
  • Father Damien from The Exorcist (even though he lost in the end...on second thought,
    strike him.)
  • Robert Deniro's character in Sleepers
  • Stacy Keach and David White in Mercy Streets

So now, your turn:

1. How have books, movies, TV, etc. tried to romanticize and glamorize your profession?

2. What are your favorites? Which ones do you watch/read over and over again?



*Hmmm, this is a problem. It looks like it should be pronounced PESH-iss. I refuse to put an apostrophe where one is not warranted. Maybe "Pescies" could be the plural. If so, I'm thinking we lose the capital all together.

9 reader comments:

All Saints Episcopal Church said...

Well from the distaff side of things, I will take Dawn French as Vicar Geraldine in The Vicar of Dibley! She is about as Pesci as you can get in the Church of England.

David Marvin said...

Who needs movies about my profession, when the truth every night on the news is so much more fanciful? Actually, Wag the Dog has to be my favorite political movie. It has so many components in it that I understand from a first hand perspective. My favorite quote from that movie is when Stanley (Dustin Hoffman) and Conrad (Robert DeNiro) are discussing what they do and Conrad likens it to being a plumber. Stanley responds, "Yea, it's like a plumber: do your job right and nobody should notice. But when you f*** it up, everything gets full of s***." I have had one too many days in politics where that has been the way I feel.

ZSB said...

Kit, I've never seen The Vicar of Dibley (don't have cable), but I've heard that it's great. I may need to netflix a season of it to check it out.

Two things:
1. Interesting, isn't it, that even in a progressive town like Hollywood, clergy are almost *always* men, unless the plot demands a woman for some reason.

2. There are plenty of Pesci-piscopals in the pictures. One of my favorite movies is Mercy Streets, which is a fun caper movie/redemption story about an Episcopal priest. Also, the aforementioned Father Gilbert is Anglican--rector of St. Marks in Stonebridge and former Scotland Yard detective. Man, Father Gilbert is cool. Also, I'm pretty sure Mel Gibson was playing an Episcopal priest in Signs (not that the Episcopal church will be running out to claim him), as he is alternately called "Father" and "Reverend," wears a dog collar, and was married.

E. said...

Oh, there are so many books and movies about writers (not copywriters, but hey, I'm an aspiring "real" writer). I think that's because so many writers like to write about the process of writing (which is interesting) and young writers like to write about writers who actually make it because they desperately want to make it as well. Some movies I like that feature writers/writing prominently: Stranger Than Fiction, Adaptation, The Hours, Under the Tuscan Sun, How to Make an American Quilt, Little Women, Finding Neverland... Also, I love Garrison Keillor, and several of his characters in various books and stories are writers. Even some non-fiction writers I like tend to write about gathering material for their writing: Bill Bryson and Tony Horwitz. And after making this list I realize that nearly all of these movies and writers appear on my list of favorites on Facebook. I also enjoy movies/stories about performers, artists, and teachers, all of which I have enjoyed at an amateur level or considered at some point as a career. Also, I like movies about students because I LOVED being a student, though all those movies did (you know, like Dead Poets Society, With Honors, School Ties, etc.) was give me a romatic idea of college as a place where people's lives were profoundly changed by the pursuit of knowledge when, in reality, college was pretty unremarkable.

VRM said...

Good luck finding a movie about someone is historic preservation. I don't think they do, and if one was ever made, it would portray preservationists one of two ways - as old ladies in white tennis shoes, or as stylish gay men restoring flabulous Queen Annes. Anyway, I think one of the funniest movies about historians in general are the National Treasure movies. I'm not sure if we own any of them (they would be in the boy movie drawer at our house) but they are hilarious to me. I don't care how much gold you find, no historian lives in a house like that. No one. People go into history because they love it - not for the money.

I do have to say, though, that I like to fancy myself a bit of a history detective. Again, not quite as it appears on tv, but fun, none the less. Maybe that's why I have all of those Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew books...

JB said...

Social workers aren't generally glamorized either. Mostly we're mean people who take children away from their parents. Guidance counselors on TV range from helpful to annoying and interfering. Mostly glamorized on movies and TV are teachers.

BTW, Pesci? I don't see it. That guy is balding and scrawny and he has that weird scratchy voice! I don't equivocate BA with him at all!

ZSB said...

JB, I think you need to watch Raging Bull, Goodfellas, and Casino to really appreciate how Pesci Joe Pesci is.

Maybe along the same lines, but more appropriate would be "DeNiro." That's DeNiro. Because it would have the Robert DeNiro connection, plus there's the Spanish connection to "that's so money."

Terry said...

"How have books, movies, TV, etc. tried to romanticize and glamorize your profession? " --> you must be kidding, I have NEVER seen an engineer glamorized.

JB said...

DeNiro definitely is more BA all around. And DeNiro is close to dinero. Yeah, I like it better than Pesci. The problem is, I think the term really needs only two syllables to be as effective as BA. (Which Pesci has, but I dislike for the aforementioned reasons.)